Zach Walters Grand Slam Puts Saints Atop North Division, 8-4
It had been two seasons since the St. Paul Saints had hit a grand slam, and Zach Walters found the most opportune time to break the drought, drilling his 10th homer of the year to give the Saints an 8-4 victory over the Sioux Falls Canaries. The victory put St. Paul ahead of the idle Gary Southshore RailCats in the North Division by a half game.
Trevor Foss cruised through the first inning, but the Sioux Falls Canaries would tag him for a run in the second. Foss retired the first two batters, but then walked Jeff Malm. Patrick Fiala reached on an error before Maxx Garrett walked to load the bases. Foss then walked Jordan Smith and the Canaries had a 1-0 lead. The Saints starter ensured there would be no further damage by getting Dan Motl to ground back to him to end the inning.
Trailing by one, Burt Reynolds would tie the score with one swing of the bat in the bottom of the third. Dylan Thompson retired the first two batters of the inning, but Reynolds absolutely crushed a ball to left-center for his 17th homer of the year, tying him for third in the American Association.
An inning later the long ball would give the Saints the lead. Dante Bichette, Jr. lined a homer over the left field wall for his sixth of the year to start the frame. Two batters later, Justin O’Conner, returning from a bout of food poisoning, drilled a shot deep to left for his 11th of the year, and the St. Paul Saints led 3-1.
Foss had been in command since the second, not allowing his first hit of the game until the top of the fifth. He allowed two total hits through the sixth, but the Canaries would finally get on the board in the seventh. Fiala walked to start the inning and moved to second on a single by Garrett. Smith moved both runners into scoring position on a sacrifice and Fiala scored when Motl singled up the middle, making it a one run game.
That would be it for Foss. Beck Wheeler came on and struck out Mitch Glasser, but then walked David Bergin to load the bases. He then threw a wild pitch, bringing in the tying run.
In the eighth, Sioux Falls would grab their first lead since the second. Jordan Dean led off the inning by drilling his fourth homer of the year to make it a 4-3 game.
The St. Paul Saints responded right away in the bottom half of the inning. Joey Wong doubled down the line in left to start the inning and scored when Max Murphy singled to left. That tied the game at four. Kyle Barrett followed with a single that moved Murphy to third and he then stole second. Kyle Schepel then struck out Reynolds, but the Canaries opted to walk Brady Shoemaker to load the bases. That proved to be a tragic decision, as Zach Walters laced his 1oth homer of the year deep over the wall in right-center to put St. Paul up by four. It was the first grand slam hit by the Saints since 2016.
Ken Frosch (3-1) earned the victory. Zach Walters finished 2-5 with a run and 4-RBI. Max Murphy and Kyle Barrett were both 3-5 with a run scored. Murphy also drove in a run. Sioux Falls was led by Maxx Garrett, who was 2-3 with a run scored.
The St. Paul Saints will welcome the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks to town on Friday night to begin a two-game series. Jake Matthys (6-7, 4.88) will start the opening game for St. Paul. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05.
By Robert Pannier